A blogger might field any number of requests to host contests for new books on their blogs. And generally speaking, you could be forgiven for almost always politely declining. “No”, you might say, “I just don’t run that sort of blog”. It is the rare book that snaps me out of such a funk as this, and the rare artist who catches my attention fully. Such is the case today with Sophie Blackall and her work on Matthew Olshan’s The Mighty Lalouche.
Best described as a story about French boxing, electric cars, and heroic postmen, Olshan’s text is sublime while Sophie Blackall’s art truly shines. Which brings us to today’s contest. Or, as we like to call it:
HOW TO SEND A HAND-WRAPPED PARCEL
The rules are simple. Share in the comments of this post the BEST package you have ever received in the mail. I’m talking the number one best. Maybe it was a hand tatted doily from your Great-Aunt Gertrude. Maybe it was a live snail named Larry. Maybe it was a flat-screen color TV from somebody you thought died thirteen years ago. Whatever it might be, I want you to tell me about it. Why? Well, after tell me your story a randomly selected winner will receive a hand-wrapped parcel from Sophie Blackall. What might such a package resemble?
Observe. From the woman herself.
Stamps and stamp pads
Stamp for sealing
Step 1: Cut off enough brown paper to cover the front and back of the book and overlap a bit. Parfait!
Step 2: Fold your book into a parcel – just like a Christmas present! My mother always told me to tuck the paper edges under and crease along the seam; it’s more chic this way.
Step 3: Tie your parcel up with string – they didn’t use sticky tape in the 19th Century! See if your friendly baker will give you some of his red and white stripy string. That’s the best kind of string. Super!
Step 4: Decorate your parcel with stamps. If you are going for a classic French look, be restrained with these stamps. If you don’t care, Allez! Stamp away to your heart’s content.
Step 5: Seal the back of your letter with wax. I give you permission to cheat and buy modern wax. It comes sized for glue guns for easy application! Très bien!
Step 6: Slip your letter in the front of the parcel…
(Disclaimer: If you want to send this through the real, modern mail, you’ll need to enclose it in another envelope, otherwise your letter may go astray. Also the Post Office is down on string. Bah!)
Bah indeed. In any case, YOUR package might be even more elaborate than this one. Who’s to say? The woman has a tendency to be artistic.
Now while you ruminate on what your best package of all time was, here is a response I received when I grilled Sophie on why she used the style she did for this book. Here is her answer.
When I sat down to make the first sketches for The Mighty Lalouche, I found my drawings to be frustratingly two dimensional. I wanted to feel you could step into Lalouche’s world. With this book, I was also keen to try something I’d never done before. Being a devil for punishment, I decided to make the book in tatebanko, Japanese paper dioramas. I drew, painted, and cut out thousands of tiny pieces of paper to make Parisian streets and boxing-ring crowds and Lalouche’s cozy apartment. Often, I sneezed and lost a bunch on my studio floor and had to start all over again. I went through many Band-aids. Once the pieces were assembled into scenes, they were lit and photographed. Most pictures books take me around four months to complete; The Mighty Lalouche took nearly two years!
All right, time’s up. Tell me your mail based joys and we’ll have a good old-fashioned lovefest for our good brave postal service.
What has truly floated your boat?